Helping kids return to school with less anxiety (and more mindfulness)
In Scotland our schools have already returned after the summer break, but in the rest of the UK (and perhaps worldwide) children and teens will be gearing up for their return.
Some will feel excited about the prospect of a new school or new term. However many will feel anxious.
Cast your mind back to what school was like for you growing up and perhaps it will help you access some empathy and compassion for the young people in your life.
Returning back to school is a challenge for many, but we can give our kids some mindful skills to help them negotiate this tricky time.
Mindfulness and the holidays
The summer holidays can be a long time to spend with your kids.
You love them but your whole routine can change and even though holidays are meant to be enjoyable, they can be a little bit stressful too!
So here are some tips and ideas to help you keep up your meditation practice and help your kids practise mindfulness during the summer break.
(Photo courtesy of Jennifer Furtney Miller – “Here is my 5 year old son meditating in the pool. Trying to compose himself during a conflict with his 7 year old sister. We love this photo. He often joins us at 6am to meditate too. Namaste.”) Continue reading
One of my friends is an experienced mindfulness teacher.
She sent me her weekly newsletter and within that there is mention of Dr Rick Hanson – the psychologist – with a link to one of his excellent presentations.
It was so good I thought I would include it in my regular blog (see below).
But it got me thinking.
Dr Hanson talks about the importance of him learning meditation skills, especially to help him recover from the difficult times he had growing up – you know the regular growing pains most of us go through and the feeling of not fitting in or being quite good enough.
He talks about how mindfulness has helped fill the ‘hole in his heart’ that these experiences created. Continue reading
(Guest blog written by one of our Connected Kids Level 1 Students from Denmark…)
Many children with ADHD have difficulty falling asleep at night, and parents of children with ADHD often see that their children rarely seem to be rested when it is time to go to school.
When children go to school or kindergarten feeling tired, it means that their internal battery is not fully charged. They get into conflict more easily, find it harder to stay focused, and their emotions are unstable because of a poor night’s sleep.
Are Kids in Canada Coping with Stress?
I’m writing this post with a focus on Canada. Why? Because I’ll be going there to teach in September and I wanted to find out more about how Canadian Kids could benefit from meditation.
What I find fascinating is that many of the issues facing young people in Canada are similar worldwide.
With 1 in 5 Canadian kids diagnosed with a mental health issues and research demonstrating that meditation can help, the time is now to equip young people with these life-saving skills.
Issues include a lack of self esteem, inability to self regulate behaviour, poor body image, bullying, high stress levels and an inability to cope. Continue reading
I’m looking to change the education system in order that kids benefit from meditation – every day.
The very fact you are reading this blog suggests that you are interested in…
a/teaching your children meditation
b/teaching other people’s children meditation
… and you want this world to be a better place for children in the future when we are ‘not around’ any more.
The growing body of research suggests that there are valid and economic reasons for children and young people to meditate regularly.
Let me explain.
Reducing the Mental Health Bill
Today I read an article about someone in the States using a derogatory term for the President. This term is an insult to people who have special needs. However a Special Olympics athlete replied to the incident with a response that gave me chills – because it was so compassionate and kind – even in the face of such anger and sarcasm. He signed it as
“A friend you haven’t made yet, John Franklin Stephens”
I was so moved by this, because this is why we teach kids meditation.
ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a condition very close to my heart as I see kids who benefit from learning easy, simple mindful activities that help them out of their stressed state.
They enter that state very easily as they basically live there. It’s not an easy existence and while I don’t think meditation is the/only answer, I do feel we need to give kids/young adults experiencing this, all the help they can.
Plus we need to be informed and make informed decisions.
A very kind person, Patricia Sarmiento, at public health corps, sent me some really useful information which I hope you can share.
Creating a comfortable, home environment for kids with ADHD >>>
Talking to your kids teachers about ADHD >>>
Helpful activities for ADHD >>>
Plus my own blog piece I did a few months ago …
Teaching kids with ADHD how to feel calm with meditation >>>
With 6.4 million children in the USA and 132,000 children in the UK having been diagnosed with ADHD… something has got to change.
We have a large number of teachers on our courses and one of the things that people want to know is how to incorporate meditation and mindfulness into what is already a busy day.
Here are a few tips on how to do this to help you get started.
- Check your energy
One of the first things I ask people who want to teach kids meditation is “do you meditate regularly”? So do you? If not, why not?
If you practise some simple mindful breathing, it will help you to cope with times of stress in the class room. It may seem that the children aren’t being affected directly, but they are. Their energy picks up on your stress, so if you practise mindful meditation on a regular basis, it will help you feel more grounded and able to cope in a busy class room.
- Start off simple
Our expectation of meditation is that it has to be a long period of time to get any benefit. Not so. If we sit noticing our breath for a minute, this gives our mind, body and emotions the opportunity to come back into balance with each other.
In my book ‘Calm Kids’ I describe different breath techniques that you can use to engage children in noticing the breath. For those with a very short attention span, ask them to hold their hands in front of their face, eyes closed and to feel their breath on their hands for 1 minute. This helps them to focus, feel their breath and slow down.
- Engage their interest
No-one likes to do something that isn’t interesting, eg it is boring! So why should meditation be any different? If they have a particular interest in a comic strip hero or a toy, then make the meditation about an imaginary journey with them.
- Make it tactile
For children (sometimes with Autism) who find it difficult to use guided imagery in a meditation, then using tactile objects can help. If your meditation is about a seaside trip then take in seaweed, sand, salt water, a seagull feather or a shell to help engage them. I explain this in more detail in my book ‘Connected Kids’.
- Don’t disturb
Get the children to help design a notice for the class room (or a corner of the room) that helps others know this is where they want to meditate and not to be disturbed when they are practising.